Five questions to ask at the wine store.

Things to be grateful for:

  • Wine.
  • Choice.
  • Wine stores.

Things that can become overwhelming:

  • Wine.
  • Choice.
  • Wine stores.

I feel ya. This pandemic is making us all hyper aware of how much we have to be thankful for. Rightly so. We may not be able to go about daily life as we used to, but there sure as hell is a wealth of things the stop and appreciate. For one, it’s quite special to still be able to walk into a wine store and select something tasty to take home. Hallelujah! Although, red flag alert, just because we can do it, doesn’t make it easy. 

La Cave De Belleville, Paris. My all time favourite wine store.

We have all been turned off (or even pissed off) by that snooty dickhead wine guy too many times. It’s the worst. Excuse me sir, just because you read a handful of Halliday’s reviews last night doesn’t make you any more qualified to tell me which pinot noir I will enjoy better with tonight’s dins. Fuck you. I digress.

I am certainly no wine expert (y’all know I’m learning), but I do have enough experience in drinking the stuff to be able to suggest a few top tips for getting the most out of your wine store experience. In a perfect world, COVID or not, you will be able to take the tips and gift yourself with a great wine! Go on, you’re worth it. 

  1. “Hey, I am after something for…”
    • Insert specific scenario here. Paint a picture of where the wine will end up. Will you go to a swanky date, or a quick fix lunch? By starting with an image of where you intend on taking the wine, you are giving your wine store friend insight into not only the wine style you are looking for, but your price range as well. A simple bit of info about your wine intentions will go a long way. If you are after something to match with your pizza in the park, a $150 Bordeaux won’t work, but a $36 Tasmanian pinot will! Trust me, it’s what I enjoyed last night. Satisfying? Very.  (Thanks Team P&V!)
  2. What are you drinking right now? 
    • Oh la! The wine store gal is a real person? Cool. Believe it or not, unless you have something quite specific in mind, considering their current taste could work as nice inspiration. Think about it. They have access to the entire store and have to pick something. Why did they pick it? Go ahead and ask. Who knows, you could learn a thing or two. Another bonus is that by making the conversation a two way street, you could cleverly slide into the good books and start to develop a sense of trust with your new wine store pal. The upshot is that next time, you are more likely to get a genuine recommendation, rather than this week’s special. Human to human, ya know?
  3. Can you please suggest something that is like “x” variety, but different?
    • Where is the fun in sticking with the same varietal? Nowhere. It’s nowhere. If you know you like a certain grape, or region, say unoaked chardonnay (yum, Chablis), why not expand your wine horizons and discover a chardonnay cousin. You might discover something from Italy, Australia or even Hungary. Go you! More than that, if you are keen enough and give this a go a few times, you might even start to learn about where wine comes from. Why do you like that style? What is it exactly that you are tasting? Why not open Pandora’s box? How fun! 
  4. Ok, I’m ballin’ today. Where should I look for your pick of the fancy stuff? 
    • Go on, treat yo’self. Or at least get ready to splurge soon. By knowing what the “good stuff” is, you will be able to see the full spectrum your wine store has on offer. If you don’t like the sound of it, then maybe there is a better store out there for you. You are not married to your wine store, remember that.
  5. Any tasting events coming up? 
    • Obviously no one is offering anything close to an event in the near future. However, your wine store might have a great online presence, or a broader community, that you might be able to partake in. Why not suss out a few behind the scenes opportunities, or find a way to increase your knowledge. Chances are that if you are vibe-ing the wine store and their team, you won’t hate the other, say “co-curricular” things they have going on. At the end of the day, wine is to be enjoyed with people, whether it’s over zoom, or otherwise socially distanced. Go ahead and enjoy that. Make the most of this time. It’s all we have.

The world of wine is full of dickheads. Much like the world in general. Be brave, talk to someone and hopefully you will find a gem. I’m confident x

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